RTTNews - With no cues from Wall Street, which was closed on Friday, and not many positives from the European or other Asian markets, Australian stocks drifted lower in early trading on Monday.

Energy, materials and healthcare stocks are among the worst hit this morning. Financials, consumer staples and utilities are also mostly down in the red. Technology stocks are trading mixed.

The Australian benchmark index S&P/ASX 200, which fell to 3,786 after opening around 3,720, is currently trading at 3,788, down by 40.2 points from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down with a loss of 37.8 points at 3,788.8.

The S&P/ASX 200 had ended with a loss of 49.10 points or 1.27% at 3,828 on Friday. The All Ordinaries index closed down 48.60 points or 1.25% at 3,827.

Among materials stocks, BHP Billiton is down by 1.5%, Fortescure Metals is trading nearly 2% down, Newcrest Mining is down with a modest loss, Orica is down by 1.7% and Rio Tinto is trading lower by 1.1%.

In the energy space, Santos is down by over 3%, Origin Energy is down by 1.6% and Woodside Petroleum is trading lower by 1.1%.

Bank stocks ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac are trading lower by 0.3%-0.6%. Diversified financial stock Macquarie Group is down with a loss of 1.1%.

In company news, Bendigo Mining has bought the Henty gold mine from Barrick Australia for around A$8 million plus A$22 million in royalties. The acquisition, which includes the operating underground mine, process plant, infrastructure, mineral tenements and 92 skilled employees, is expected to result in immediate cash flow for Bendigo as it requires no major capital expenditure. The Bendigo Mining stock has ended at A$0.27 on Friday. After edging higher this morning, the stock is currently trading at its previous close.

Leighton Holdings has won a A$289 million contract to build a computer services park in Chennai, India, for a unit of the Tata Group. The Leighton Holdings stock is currently trading with a modest gain.

In economic news, according to a report from TD Securities/Melbourne Institute, inflation gauge rose 0.4% in June, following a 0.3% fall in May. In the 12 months to June, the inflation gauge rose by 1.4% - the lowest annual rate since the start of the series in mid-2002. The annual rate in May was 1.5%.

With economic recession taking a toll of several companies, Corporate Australia is set to experience its worst annual earnings season in nearly two decades.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened lower and fell to US$0.7946-US$0.7951 in early trading this morning. Currently, the Aussie is trading at 0.7952 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore are trading weak. The Korean market is trading in positive territory.

The New York Mercantile Exchange was closed on Friday for the July 4 public holiday. A day earlier, light crude for August delivery had settled at US$64.15. In London, Brent North Sea Crude for delivery in August fell 52 cents to US$66.13 a barrel on Friday.

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